Hamilton County

S/Sgt. Keith H. Burton




Former W. C. Soldier Gets 40 Nazis, 2 German Tanks

In the grim and bloody actions in early September near Metz, France, Staff Sgt. Keith Burton, former Webster City resident, killed 40 nazis and knocked out two Tiger tanks in one week, friends and relatives here have been advised.

Although the sergeant never mentioned anything of the exploits in his letters to his mother, Mrs. Lucille Riley, former Webster City resident who now lives at Rockford, Ill., news of his feat on the western front was received by Mrs. Riley in a letter sent her by Mrs. Garner McNaught of Ames, wife of an infantry captain who was in the same action and had known Sergeant Burton when they were neighbors in Webster City.

In Combat 3 Weeks

Excerpts from the letter follows:
“The purpose of this letter is to let you know that my husband has written that he ran into Keith over in France. Garner was sent back to a convalescent hospital because of being pretty well shaken up in a battle around Metz, on Sept. 9.

“He said Keith had been in combat three weeks. His second week he killed 40 Germans and knocked out two Tiger tanks.

“The third week he got captured by the Germans. As they were taking him back he saw a pile of GI dogtags. He said he got nervous and didn’t want them doing that to him so he grabbed the guard’s rifle, smashed him over the head and took off.

“Keith ran so far and fast that he got his same old nose bleed that he always used to have trouble with, so they sent him back to the hospital."

Grandparents Live Here

The 21-year old staff sergeant is a grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Smith living just north of this city. The McNaught and Riley families were neighbors when the Rileys lived in Webster City before moving to Rockford in 1941.

Sergeant Burton was inducted into the army March 24, 1943, and received his basic training at Camp Butner, N. C. He has been overseas since June.

Prior to entering the service he was an employee of the Greenley Brothers and Co., at Rockford.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - Dec. 2, 1944


Chief Warrant Officer Third Class Burton was assigned to the 78th division in 1942. During the Normandy invasion that same year, Burton jumped with the 101st Airborne Division. In 1943 he acted as first sergeant for the 398th Military Police Battalion in Paris, France. Back in the states, he served as cadet sergeant and with the CID Bn. at West Point until 1952, when he left for Korea to spend a year with the 25th Infantry. After one year, he returned to West Point where he retired in 1962.

Burton’s decorations include a Silver Medal with Oak Leaf cluster, a Bronze Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, WWII and Koran War Combat Infantry Badges and Korean War Combat Medic badge and Master Parachutist pin.

Keith Harrison Burton was born Jan. 26, 1924 to Harold J. and Lucille V. Smith Burton Riley. He died Nov. 15, 1991 and is buried in Fort Smith National Cemetery, Fort Smith, AR. His tombstone shows he was a POW and was awarded the Purple Heart.

Sources: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA and ancestry.com